Re: Open SEAT Godó
Once and future King ?
Hot on the heels of his Monte Carlo success, Argentina's Guillermo Coria may be the man of the future, but don't overlook the once-and-future great Marat Safin. Although Coria beat Safin in the semis, the Russian showed glimpses of the form that made him world number one, writes Grégory Lanzenberg.
"I'll catch him another time," said Safin after his 4-6 6-1 3-6 loss to Coria on Saturday.
That other time just may well be at the French Open in Paris next month.
True, when you play an opponent who returns as well as Coria and who rallies better than a Michael Chang at his best, it takes a while to get used to the pace.
After losing the first set, Safin manage to serve & volley and overpower Coria from the baseline. He crushed the Argentine 6-1 in the second.
But the third set was typical Safin: Three perfect service game, then a misjudgment from the chair empire that rattled the Monaco resident enabling Coria to break and win the match.
Last season's wrist injury aside, you might say that Safin has never really recovered from crushing Pete Sampras at age 20 in the 2000 U.S. Open final.
The long list of opportunities offered in a silver platter include the 2002 Australian Open where Sweden's Thomas Johansson prevailed in a match Safin should have won and 2002 Roland Garros where Safin inexplicably gave up the ghost to Juan Carlos Ferrero in straight sets.
It's all the more inexplicable that Safin when he's focussed is unperturbable like in his US Open win over Sampras, or more recently his five-set epic victory this year over Andre Agassi at the Australian Open or his wins over France in Paris in the 2002 Davis Cup final.
Along with world number one Roger Federer, Safin - now 23 - remains the most gifted player on the tour . If the Moscow native played at full potential all of the time he'd be world number two just behind the Swiss.
So which Safin will show up in Paris? The good one, he promised.
"I'm really, really getting in shape."
"I'm optimistic about the French because my preparation has been good and it's in five sets, which gives me more time to correct my faults."
"I'm really, really getting in shape," he added, a repeat of the statement that was met with scepticism before this year's Australian Open, scepticism that was quelled with his brilliant wins over Agassi and Andy Roddick.
Marat Safin - always the one and only